Current Issue

Apr. 6, 2011

Vol. 111, No. 10

alumni spotlight


Granite “pillows” from Mennin’s “Igneous Landscape” series; below, Mennin at work on a granite fountain for Stanford Law School.
Photos courtesy Mark Mennin ’82
Granite “pillows” from Mennin’s “Igneous Landscape” series; below, Mennin at work on a granite fountain for Stanford Law School.

Mark Mennin '82

By Katherine Federici Greenwood
Published on March 31, 2011

Résumé: Sculptor based in Bethlehem, Conn., known for large-scale works of stone that people can sit on or lie in; adjunct faculty at the New York Academy of Art. Majored in history.  

HEAVY LIFTING

With a baseball cap on backward, a breathing mask, and ear protection, Mennin looks like a man who works for a living. No fancy ties, shiny shoes, or heated office. But he’s not a laborer, he’s an artist. His tools: a forklift to move 15,000-pound sections of stone, as well as saws, torches, chisels, compressors, and jackhammers that he uses to break off, grind, shape, and polish granite and marble.  

FROM FIGURATIVE HEADS TO SUNDIALS

Mennin’s work has been exhibited in galleries in New York and abroad and has been installed in both private and public spaces. Among his smaller works are glowering and grimacing heads made of limestone or marble. His latest large-scale granite installations are public commissions for universities — “Magma cum laude,” two fountains joined by a walkway and including sculptural seating for 32 arranged in a courtyard at Stanford Law School, was installed this month. At Penn State, he is making a giant sundial — a 14-foot granite spearlike structure stuck in the ground on an angle (called a gnomon) that will cast a shadow on 30 abstract carvings arranged in two semicircles and a straight line — to be installed in May. The sundial is a functional work of art: To ensure that it will mark the hours of the day accurately, Mennin consulted with Penn State astrophysicists.  

CONTEMPORARY APPROACH TO AN ANCIENT TRADITION

The payoff for public commissions like those at Stanford and Penn State, Mennin says, is that “thousands of people are rolling on them and sitting on them and touching them.” He makes bedlike sculptures that are “about bonding a real body to an earth material. It becomes a tidier way of rolling around in the mud” and a way to feel how soft our bodies are next to something that “can feel deceptively soft and look deceptively soft,” but is dense and hard. Stone provides the “challenge of making something fresh and contemporary and relevant out of something that has more history than any other material.”

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Comments
2 Responses to Mark Mennin

David Nixon '82 Says:

2011-04-04 09:39:32

Great profile of an incredibly talented classmate!

Harry Hagerty '82 Says:

2011-04-12 09:28:07

I knew Mark even before PU, as we spent the summers together in upstate NY. I remember reading his summer book report in 1976. I had never heard the word "calumny" before, but there it was. I try to use it once a day now. Thanks, Mark. Now being accused of not taking out the garbage is a "calumny"!
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Web Bonus Links
Grimacing faces and hard pillows
Watch a slideshow of works by stone sculptor Mark Mennin ’82.
CURRENT ISSUE: Apr. 6, 2011

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